H-E-B has grown a bit since then, finally expanding to North Texas with stores in Plano and Frisco, and more to come. In addition to the fine deli, the stores now often include a barbecue spot with its own separate entrance.
True Texas BBQ in 2014 in Pleasanton, and there are now a couple dozen, including in both of the recently opened H-E-B locations in Plano and Frisco. Texas Monthly named it the best statewide barbecue chain in Texas in 2019, and we were anxiously awaiting the Observer’s resident barbecue expert Chris Wolfgang to chime in with his opinion, but at the end of the day, we were too hungry and curious to wait.
As is true at any typical barbecue joint, there's meat by the pound, sandwiches, combo plates, sides and desserts. The prices are pretty good; sliced brisket, which you can specify lean or fatty, sets you back $22. The one-, two- or three-meat combo plates include two sides, onions, pickles and bread and range from $13 to $19, which is a great deal, especially since the brisket was much better than we expected.
We ordered two separate two-meat combo plates, one with fatty brisket and pulled pork, the other with lean brisket and sausage. For sides, we went with serrano cornbread, mac and cheese, potato salad and fries. They don’t slice it up right there in front of you, so the wait was a bit longer, but it was worth it.
The sides were on the large size: the cornbread alone was enough for two people, or four for those with more control. It was topped with a healthy dollop of butter, the sweetness tempering the serrano.
The mac and cheese was really cheesy, and tasted more of real cheddar than processed cheese food. It was too much cheese for one of us, but really, can that ever be true? It was one of the better barbecue joint mac and cheese dishes we’ve had in a while.
The fatty brisket consisted of a single slice of relatively thick meat (for a barbecue chain) that was moist and juicy with a wonderful bark. The lean brisket was two thinner slices, and even though it was indeed leaner it did not sacrifice juiciness. It wasn't dry at all and had a fine bark and smoke ring.
The sausage was serviceable, sliced into about a dozen pieces, with a nice texture and flavor. For us, sausage is hard to mess up, but equally hard to make outstanding. This, then, fell somewhere in the middle of that continuum.
We had no room for any of the cobblers or banana puddings available; this is more food than one would expect for $15 a plate. Is it as good as Pecan Lodge, Cattleack, Lockhart or Hutchins? Hardly. But it’s not really that far off, either, and costs less and has shorter lines. It’s miles above the Dickey’s Barbecue Pits of the world, and it’s miles above a 50-cent, self-prepared sandwich slathered in free mustard.
6001 Preston Road, No. 100, Plano; 4800 Main St., Frisco. Daily, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.